[Foundation-l] Racism in Commons

Monahon, Peter B. Peter.Monahon at USPTO.GOV
Fri Dec 7 12:55:18 UTC 2007

> Earlier: "... The important question[s] 
> then, [are,] are we displaying images that 
> people find offensive in spite of the fact 
> that the get offended, or are we 
> displaying them because of the fact 
> they get offended?  If it is the latter, we 
> have a moral obligation to take them 
> down, and question our own ethics.  If 
> it is the former, we have a duty to 
> remain uncensored ... I fear that these 
> cartoons in question (the ones of 
> Sharon) fit squarely into the latter ..."

Peter Blaise responds: I disagree.  Two points.

1 - Ignore the perceived content of the images, then make your decision
to keep them or not.

2 - After we make the decision to keep them regardless of perceived
content, I disagree about the perceived content.

More to the third point raised above: I find none of them provocative
for the sake of being provocative ... though, there is nothing wrong and
censorable or censurable about being provocative for the sake of being
provocative.  Just as there is nothing actionable about being funny for
the sake of being funny, or being ironic for the sake of being ironic,
or being ... you get my point, I hope.

"But, he is being offensive, the images themselves are offensive!"


Offence is in the eye of the beholder.  If Joe Muslim does not what to
sin by making a graven image of Mohamed, then let Joe Muslim not sin by
not making a graven image of Mohamed.  What does that have to do with me
making one, or enjoying someone else's?

Many of Latuff's images strike me as ridiculing people who themselves
strike me as ridiculous by their own behavior and words.  That's just my
take.  I've seen the pictures, and I can't imagine how anyone subsequent
to me would be damaged if I seem to be able to see them without being
damaged myself.  Censorship is such hypocrisy: "I can see these but you
can't"?!?  See web places like 
for well exercised dialog on this particular topic.  For the general
topic, see web resources such as a Google [censorship pictures] search.
737,000 results.

But here, what do we say?  How about:

"Dear Joe Muslim (and Larry Hebrew/Jew, Heather Christian, Ben Hindu,
and so on ...),
	Thank you for asking me to join your personal choices, but I
decline.  I do not accept the choices you've made for yourself as
choices I make for myself, and I accept no authority but the authority
we the people continually build together for the unity, justice,
tranquility, defense, welfare, and liberty for ourselves and our

Yada yada, so on and so forth.  The end.  Case closed.

... until someone else comes along and wants to quash each other's
contributions to the community.

Instead of:

"Caution, some people might find images in this collection offensive!"

... let's try:

"Caution, we have found that some people seem to be immature and unable
to manage themselves when they feel surprised, provoked, or offended.
If you are one of those, then enjoy your own personal rage in response
to some of the pictures inside, but please do not ask us over and over
to take the images down - such requests to remove legitimate
contributions that fulfill the purpose of commons will get the same "NO"
response as previous requests.  Thank you for visiting, and try to enjoy
your day and yourself anyway.  We are."


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